(This post could alternatively be titled: "Because I'm fat! I'm fat! I'm real, real, fat!" You know, just in case you needed a different song stuck in your head.)
"Do I look fat in this?" Ha! Just kidding.
Okay. So let's get the preliminaries out of the way. I'm fat. (gasp!) I use the F-word to describe myself. (gasp!) It's not a put-down. (gasp!)
And though the world is currently teeming with discourse about women who want to lose weight so they can 'be that great and healthy role-model for their kids', I think I'm a just-fine role model for my children (double gasp!)
Everybody still with me? Everyone alright?
Super. Let's move along.
I am, apparently, among other things (like lazy and too stupid to know better), an epidemic. That's always lovely to hear, no? It doesn't matter that I exercise (a lot), role-model and encourage a physically active lifesyle with my kids, eat pretty darned healthily, have amazing health (knock wood), not to mention perfect blood pressure (which my docs always seem so surprised about). It doesn't matter that the skinny person next to me might have an eating disorder, or live on cheetos, or, you know, crack. My body is an epidemic. Let's just stop for a second and try to take it what impact it might have on a person to continuously be told they are part of an epidemic. An epidemic. Like smallpox. Like AIDS. Like . . . me.
(If you guessed that it makes me feel super-awesome-fabulous, you win the prize!)
Now the idea of 'health,' the area from which the epidemic discourse arises from, of course, is the ultimate trump card in hatin' on fat people.
Wanna make fun of some fat folks? Why not! Heck - it's for their own good. Fat is, after all, soooooooooo unhealthy.
Wanna become obsessed with your weight? Wanna develop disordered eating? Why, we'll congratulate you! After all - it's for your own good - fat is sooooooooo unhealthy.
Wanna create a culture of perfectly intelligent women who converse more about the state of their thighs than the state of the union? Done! After all - fat is soooooo unhealthy! (If I had a dollar for every thin woman who conspiritorially shared with me their body-hatin' crap, because, I, an actual fat person, must hate myself just as much as they do, I'd be rich. Rich, I tell you. Wifey and I could retire and go on permanent vacay... just sayin'. And though I have my moments - I guarantee ya, I don't hate myself as much as they do).
Wanna create a culture of children who grow into adults who are terrified of getting fat above all else? Let's just keep on keeping on then. We're well on track. C'mon kids, fat is soooooooo unhealthy.
If, and I do mean if, the medical community and the media cared one whit about the health of people... up to and including fat people, we would stop talking about size altogether. That's right, boys and girls.
Because while being above one's 'optimal' body mass index may not be the best for us, here's what we also know:
1. yo-you diets take years off of people's lives,
2. eating disorders take years off of people's lives,
3. fat people are ridiculed for trying to exercise in public. (Ha! Fat girls in spandex! Ha! Fat girl running! Ha! Ha! Ha! Fat kids in gym class! Hardy har har!),
4. all people (yes, even the slender ones) need to be eating more healthily and getting more exercise,
5. our culture of body surveillance, which has created some serious mental health issues in women in particular, is beyond disturbing.
What might happen if we took the focus off of fat and put it back to where it belongs? Encouraging health. And not the one-dimensional view of health currently coming out of much of the medical community. Promoting health that includes a sense of self-loving instead of self-flagellation. Forgive me for the Oprah-ism here, but I honestly think that giving people the tools and the encouragement they need to live the best life they can in the body they actually reside in. It's not going to stop people like me from being fat (and looking pretty fine, I might add). But it might help people who are so caught up in the bullshit of being an 'epidemic.'
What might happen if we stopped making gym class a hostile and terrifying place for fat kids, the gym a less terrifying place for fat folks? What if we told people that everyone was capable of exercise? What if healthier food was actually affordable? What might happen if we stopped surveilling people's bodies altogether?
Sky's the limit, baby.
I'm a fat mama.
And I will teach my kids to love themselves. I will teach my kids to treat their bodies (and the bodies of other people) with love, kindness and respect. And yes - that will include healthy eating and lots of fresh air (insofar as 'fresh' air exists these days) and lots of exercise. I hope, despite grappling with my own body shit, that my kids will never hear me say: "Does this make me look fat?" or other kinds of self-disrespecting bodytalk because that, that message right there, is not the kind of role-modelling this mama is shooting for.